The Last Charge (The Nameless War Trilogy Book 3)

The Last Charge (The Nameless War Trilogy Book 3) by Edmond Barrett Page B

Book: The Last Charge (The Nameless War Trilogy Book 3) by Edmond Barrett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edmond Barrett
her mooring, the big carrier was destroyed without striking a single blow in her own defence. As far as Alanna had ever heard, there were no survivors.
    “He supposedly wasn’t on her when the Nameless hit – away on compassionate leave,” Schurenhofer expanded.
    Alanna made no reply. That story was sufficiently short on frills to be plausible. Being the only survivor of a ship, to be the only one to have come back was bad enough when you had been there, when you knew that you had done all that you could. How much worse could it be if you hadn’t been there? Could that anger turn outwards rather than inwards?
    “Why would anyone put someone like that in charge of a squadron?”
    “Why would anyone put someone like you in charge of a flight, Skipper?” Schurenhofer replied giving her a sidelong glance. “Not enough flight crews to go round.”
    Before Alanna could make any reply, her intercom beeped.
    “All flight crews to the briefing room, all flight crews to the briefing room,” squawked an automated message.
    The entire Squadron waited. Some were still pulling on their flight suits and there was a low background murmur of conversation that even Dati’s frown couldn’t silence. When Captain Durane walked into the briefing room they came to attention. The imminence of the combat didn’t seem to worry him. If anything, it seemed to put an extra spring in his step.
    “Ladies and Gentlemen,” Durane began as he took his place at the head of the room. “A few minutes ago we received an FTL transmission from Earth. The Nameless have begun to jump into our solar system. As previously agreed, a fighter and strike boat attack will be put in as they deploy. This is an opportunity to put them off their stroke, make it clear that we are not about to roll over or surrender the initiative.
    Given the enemy’s position and composition, Headquarters has ordered we use Plan Welcome One. Forty minutes from now, we will jump back into the solar system, approximately inside the orbit of Neptune. From there you will launch, making your own jump to reach the combat zone. Flights One and Two will be armed with a mix of anti-fighter and anti-ship missiles.”
    Nodding to Alanna, Durane added: “Flight Three will carry a pure anti-fighter load out. Your objective will be firstly to draw out and engage the enemy fighters to clear the way for our strike boats. Your secondary objective will be to engage and destroy either support ships or carriers. Commander Dati will now give you your detailed briefings. Good hunting to you all and give them hell!”
    With their respective weapon controllers starting up the four Ravens of Flight Three and the deck crews finishing the arming, Alanna gave her final briefing.
    “Alright, whatever else happens, make sure you wingmen stick close to your leader,” she told them. “I don’t want to find myself floating around out there on my own. Remember, we’ll have a tech advantage, but they’ll definitely have a numerical one. So our first pass will be with missiles so that we can thin the herd a bit, before closing to gun range. Even so, we’ll have to be careful to avoid being mobbed. Above all else, we have to be sure we don’t get boxed in,”
    “I don’t get why Planetary Defence is only putting in half of their fighters,” complained Lieutenant Ponta of the fighter B for Bold .
    “Basic strategy,” Alanna replied. “Don’t let the enemy get a good idea of your strength unless you have to. If they’ve only seen half the fighters we have, then that should leave their force projections way off.”
    Ponta nodded unhappily.
    “Unless someone pulls a death ray out of their ass, we aren’t going to win this today, even if we deploy every fighter we have,” she added. “This is opening night stuff. Oh and by the way, the rest of us will be buying the drinks for the first one to make ace.”
    “All hands, brace for thrust! All hands, brace for thrust!” squawked the

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